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Traffic crisis bill wants execs to take public transport

/ 04:26 PM November 14, 2016
Traffic congestion along Edsa gets worse as Christmas nears. —EDWIN BACASMAS

Traffic congestion along Edsa gets worse as Christmas nears. EDWIN BACASMAS/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

It seems like “experience is the best teacher” insofar as the traffic crisis bill is concerned, which wants public officials to take public transport.

In a text message on Monday, Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, who chairs the House transportation committee, said the version of the bill which he filed with Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Floor Leader Ilocos Norte Rep. Rudy Fariñas would be adopted by the committee as the surviving bill.

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Several bills tackling the traffic crisis are being consolidated by the technical working group (TWG) within the committee. Sarmiento said the committee would approve the bill next week after the TWG finishes consolidating the different versions.

READ: Traffic crisis bill gains traction in House

“It will be proposed to be adopted as the model bill this Wednesday and will hopefully be approved by the committee by next week,” Sarmiento said.

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The House leaders’ version of the bill or House Bill 4334 seeks to address the traffic crisis by giving special powers to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade as President Rodrigo Duterte’s alter ego.

The Department of Transportation secretary under the bill would be designated as the de officio traffic chief, with “full power and authority… to streamline the management of traffic and transportation and control road use in the identified Metropolitan Areas.”

The bill would limit the areas where traffic crises persist to Metro Manila, Metropolitan Cebu (Cebu City, Mandaue City and Lapu Lapu City) and Metropolitan Davao (Davao City).

The bill stated the following powers of the traffic chief:

  • The formulation, coordination, and monitoring of policies, standards, programs and projects to rationalize the existing public transport operations, infrastructure requirements, the use of thoroughfares, and promotion of safe and convenient movement of persons and goods
  • The administration and implementation of all traffic enforcement operations, traffic engineering services, and traffic education programs
  • The power to modify, amend, or expand the functions and authority of any of the Covered Agencies and officers in relation to matters affecting land-based traffic
  • The harmonization of the provisions of the following and any other laws that relate to traffic management, road use, and all rules, regulations, ordnances, and orders duly issued and enacted by the Covered Agencies pursuant to such legislation, to the end of having, in each of the Metropolitan Areas: a single traffic coordinator; single ticketing system for traffic violations; and a comprehensive, unified road use plan
  • The implementation of a unified traffic system in each of the Metropolitan Areas to be followed by all component LGUs (local government units)
  • The enforcement of all traffic laws and regulations in the Metropolitan Areas, including the power to enlist and deputize members of the Philippine National Police, traffic enforcers of LGUs, duly licensed security guards, or members of nongovernmental organizations to whom may be delegated certain authority, subject to such conditions and requirements as the Traffic Chief may impose
  • The power to review, modify, override, or cancel franchises, concessions, contracts permits, and licenses issued by any of the covered agencies or component LGUs, as well as the rules and procedures for awarding such
  • The installation and administration within each of the Metropolitan Areas of a single ticketing system which shall fix, impose, and collect unified, graduating fines and penalties for all kinds of violations of traffic rules and regulations, whether moving or non-moving in nature
  • The power to confiscate, suspend or revoke driver’s licenses in the enforcement of such traffic laws and regulations

READ: ‘Just what will gov’t do about traffic?’

The bill also said the traffic chief, and the transportation undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and directors of the Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), are required to take public land, rail, maritime and aviation transportation, “used by the masses,” at least once a week.

This was meant for the officials “to immerse themselves in the traffic crisis during the effectivity of this Act,” the bill read.

The bill also said the traffic chief has supervision and control over the following offices—MMDA, Cebu Coordinating Council, Philippine National Police – Traffic Management Group, Land Transportation Office, Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board, Road Board, Davao Traffic Administrator and all other executive agencies, bureaus and offices with roles pertaining to land transportation regulation.

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READ: ‘Traffic crisis bill may be template for better transport system’

The traffic chief as the President’s alter ego also has the power of supervision over all LGUs within the metropolitan areas.

The traffic chief also has the power to issue, enact, review, harmonize, amend, revise, revoke and/or repeal existing traffic regulations, policies, ordnances, orders and circulars issued and enacted by the covered agencies to promote efficient mobility in the three metropolitan areas.

The traffic chief in coordination with the covered agencies also has the power to enact a comprehensive traffic rules and regulations handbook which identifies traffic violations and offenses and imposes penalties—reckless driving, obstruction of roads and intersection; counter-flow; lack of or inadequate parking spaces or set-back or drive-way; illegal loading and unloading of passengers or cargo, among others.

The bill also seeks to give social support mechanisms to displaced public utility vehicle drivers and operators to be affected by the revocation or modification of franchise through the grant of financial assistance or separation pay.

The House committee turned its attention to the traffic crisis bill, dropping the term “emergency powers” that was initially asked from the House of Representatives by Tugade for President Duterte.

READ: Duterte asks for emergency powers to ease Metro traffic nightmare

In his proposal to Congress, Tugade sought to grant Duterte special powers to solve traffic, which includes among others opening up the roads in the subdivision to ease traffic congestion, go to direct contracting to speed up infrastructure projects and resolve injunction and right of way issues delaying the implementation of infrastructure projects.

Under the Constitution, only Congress can grant the President emergency powers.

“In times of war or other national emergency, the Congress may, by law, authorize the President, for a limited period and subject to such restrictions as it may prescribe, to exercise powers necessary and proper to carry out a declared national policy,” according to Article VI, Section 23 of the 1987 Constitution. RAM/rga

READ: Congress ‘OK’ with emergency powers for Duterte

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TAGS: officials, President Rodrigo Duterte, Public Transport, Traffic Crisis Bill, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade
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